Week 8 – “Neurons That Fire Together Wire Together.”
The late, great Wilhelm Reich, M.D. is rolling over in his grave, sitting up straight and saying, “Vhat took you so long, I toldt you over 75 years ago dat der vas a connection between your emotions and your body!” As Sigmund Freud’s prize pupil, he was ostracized by his teacher for making such a claim. He went on to establish Reichian Therapy which in turn fostered Structural Integration (Rolfing) and its progeny: Bioenergetics, Hellerwork, Aston Patterning, Rosen Method Bodywork, et al. They are all about identifying and releasing emotions that are stuck in the body.
We have been presented in class with scientific analysis that proves the dendrites and axons of the central nervous system in the brain respond to repetitive mental and emotional stimulus by becoming joined in such a way that they respond more readily to the stimulus which formed them in the first place. So it’s bad enough to learn that the negative affirmations of our parents and teachers e.g. “you’re no good,” you’ll never amount to anything.”, etc have created an actual hard-wired emotional response within us, but now we learn that we are doing it to ourselves.
And once it’s established it behaves like an addiction so that we crave the feeling. That’s the rub. We end up promoting the very emotional state that we want to avoid because its familiarity is comforting.
You mean we want to feel lousy?
Yeah, because we have conditioned ourselves to expect that feeling and now science tells us that we have actually conditioned the neurons in our brains. The more they fire together they wire together.
So here I am eight weeks into this course and I go off to a weekend nutrition seminar to get some continuing ed credits I need and I come back totally stoked by what I’ve learned and I spend the week silently struggling with my Definite Major Purpose and wondering about my direction. I am seriously bummed. As usual I keep it to myself as I try to figure out my direction for myself, knowing all the time that I’ve become a bear to live with. Unwilling to inflict myself any further, by mid-week I unload my whole predicament to my wife who, by the Grace of God, is in this class with me. And she says:
” Hey, man, don’t you remember what we’ve learned? When this happens we’re supposed to re-wire those neurons by repeating all the positive stuff we’ve been developing about how we want to be.”
I stand there frozen, internally fighting the truth of what she’s saying while doing my usual “Help! I want to flee. I want to be anywhere but here!” dialogue with myself whenever I’m confronted with my shortcomings which at this late stage in my life is typically only by her. This takes all of about 25 seconds (she has no idea how forcefully I’m resisting her inside) and then I gracefully capitulate to her logic because, one, anytime I’m resisting anything this forcefully it’s a sign for me to pay attention and two, as usual, she makes sense.
This has been an earth-moving kind of revelation for me and I am still slowly absorbing its ramifications and gingerly applying it in those oh, so rare moments (wink, wink) when I find myself off course.
Herr Doktor Reich, you were right on!
“I can be what I will to be!”